Farming is a stressful job, even in good times, and the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic turmoil have only added to farmers’ stress. Rural communities face challenges like isolation, lack of mental health professionals and perceived stigma around seeking help for mental health concerns. Farmers, ranchers and rural community members need appropriate resources to help manage their own stress and support their friends and neighbors.
To help farmers and ranchers cope, Farm Credit created a free, online farm stress management course in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), National Farmers Union (NFU), Michigan State University Extension (MSU Extension) and University of Illinois Extension.
This free Rural Resilience online course, open to the public, is made possible by grant funding from Farm Credit. The program will help participants develop the skills to:
- Understand sources of stress,
- Learn the warning signs of stress and suicide,
- Identify effective communication strategies,
- Reduce the stigma related to mental health concerns and
- Connect farmers and ranchers with appropriate mental health and other resources.
Resources for the media:
- Download/listen to the audio from the press announcement
- Watch the video below
This free, online course available to the public builds on efforts that began in late 2019 in a press event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Farm Credit, AFBF, NFU and MSU Extension launched their partnership in December 2019. Watch the below video for highlights from the press conference, or listen to the archived audio, watch live footage and download photos from the event.
- Additional Efforts
In addition to the Rural Resilience training for farmers and rural community members, MSU Extension is developing a new version tailored to the needs of Farm Credit loan officers and other farmer-facing employees, to help them learn strategies for communicating with farmers experiencing financial stress and ways to help manage their own stress.
This training builds on other Farm Credit efforts to support rural mental health. We partner with the AgriSafe Network to educate rural health professionals on the mental health risks faced by farmers and ranchers and trains them to integrate basic mental health screenings into their primary care practices. The Total Farmer Health campaign helps address the limited mental health services in many rural areas and trains primary care practitioners to better understand and recognize the challenges agricultural producers face and how they might manifest.
Farm Credit also partnered with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation to develop a new curriculum focused on the mental well-being of rural youth ages four to 13, as part the “Ag Safety Days” it hosts across rural America. This curriculum launched in January 2020.
We also partner with American Agri-Women on its Cultivating Resiliency initiative. This includes webinar discussions with farm families who have dealt with mental health issues. In addition are Coffee Chat Sessions, which provide an anonymous online forum for group discussion with folks in other regions experiencing similar situations, led by a trained professional.